Whether you are interested in donating your eggs or you are a hopeful recipient, you may wonder what the legal rights and responsibilities of egg donors are. Donating your eggs to a couple who are having trouble conceiving can be very rewarding, but it also calls to mind numerous legal questions. Before undertaking such a serious commitment, donors and recipients should both be aware of the donor’s rights and obligations as well as the rights of the child she helps to create.
It may seem logical and safe to assume that the rules that apply to donating sperm apply equally to donating eggs. However, this isn’t the case. The legal implications of sperm and egg donation shift constantly. Most states have their own rules governing the process. In sperm donation, an important factor is whether the donation took place through a licensed medical professional (as opposed to the sperm being “informally” donated to the couple or mother).
When it comes to egg donation, however, the most important factor tends to be the intention of the parties involved. This is usually discerned by the court via a written contract. That’s why it’s important for everyone involved to sign a contract (not just a waiver of rights). This way, both parties have a precise understanding on record.
A contract such as this should contain specific information including the circumstances of the donation, the reasons for the donation, the donor’s intent to relinquish her parental rights, the expected compensation, and – most importantly – who the child’s parents will be. Should a donor change her mind and demand custody, the court will refer to the contract to determine her original intent.
Does an Egg Donor Have Any Parental Rights or Obligations?
The question of whether a donor has parental rights or responsibilities is a tricky one. There is no one, firm, general answer. Contradictory rulings emerge all the time, which is why it’s important to consult an experienced family law attorney to find out which laws apply to you.
Few states have laws that regulate egg donation and the legal judgments about them have been inconsistent. If you are concerned about lawsuits, you should check with a family law attorney before signing anything you don’t agree with or understand. A solid contract signed by all parties is the key to preventing legal hassles down the road.